§ (Power of guardians to borrow for emigration.)
§ From and after the passing of this Act, the board of guardians of any union in Ireland are authorised to borrow money for the purpose of defraying or assisting to defray the expenses of the emigration of poor persons resident within their union, or any electoral division thereof, in manner provided by "The Poor Law Amendment (Irelend) Act, 1849,"as amended by subsequent Acts, subject to the following modifications (that is to say):
- (1.) The provisions of the said Act in relation to the repayment of the advance by annual instalments shall not apply;
- (2.) The advances may be made by the Commissioners of Public Works out of any moneys granted to them for the purpose of loans in place of the Public Works Loans Commissioners;
- (3.) Every such advance made by the Commissioners of Public Works shall bear interest at the rate of three and-a-half per centum per annum, or at such other rate as the Treasury may from time to time fix, in order to enable the advance to be made without loss to the Exchequer;
- (4.) Every such advance made by the Commissioners of Public Works, and the interest thereon, shall be repaid within such period from the date of the advance, not being less than fifteen years nor more than thirty years, as the Treasury may from time to time fix;
§ For the purposes of this Act "The Poor Law Amendment (Ireland) Act, 1819,"means the Act of the Session of the twelfth and thirteenth years of the reign of Her present Majesty, chapter one hundred and four;
said, that, after the words that had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir E. Assheton Cross), he intended to introduce this important question very briefly indeed. He regretted that he had not a little more time to discuss it at greater length. He regretted also that it was not introduced by some gentleman whoso practical benevolence in carrying out the work of emigration had already established him as one of the pioneers in that great undertaking. It was only by a sort of Parliamentary anomaly that the duty fell to his lot to discharge. He would now very shortly state to the House the object of this important clause. By the Poor Laws Amendment Act of the year
1849 Government aid was given to emigration, and loans were authorized to be made to Boards of Guardians for that purpose. These loans were for seven years, and were repayable by seven annual instalments. At first these loans were taken up to a very considerable extent. During the first three years after the passing of the Act no less than £80,000 was advanced to various Unions, and about 16,000 people wore assisted to emigrate. After that the borrowing almost entirely ceased, and emigration under loan almost died away, until Parliament last year endeavoured to revive it. A clause in the Land Act authorized £200,000 to be advanced to public bodies for emigration purposes. The Law Advisers of the Crown had come to the conclusion that the words "public body" did not include the Guardians of Unions. Now, Guardians of Unions were probably the only public body in Ireland who did seriously care to assist emigration, and the proof of this was in the annual Report of the Local Government Board, from which it appeared that during the last 27 years the Guardians of Unions had out of the rates assisted 18,000 persons to emigrate—a cost to the rates of £60,000. Now, the Government, seeing that Parliament evidently desired that this £200,000 should be utilized for the purpose of emigration by means of loan, proposed in this clause to give general powers of borrowing to the Unions, and thus to carry out the undoubted intention of Parliament. But this was not enough. Besides the Unions who could borrow, there were other Unions which specially required to be assisted by means of emigration and who could not assist themselves. These were Belmullet, Newport, Swineford, Clifden, Ouguterard; and these Unions contained a population of upwards of 131,000. In these Unions, of which two wore in Mayo and three in Galway, there were something like 20,000 agricultural holdings, of which 14,400 were valued under £4, and only 890 were valued over £8. To give the Committee a notion of the poverty of these bodies, he might say that the valuations per head of the population were as low as 13s. 4d., 16s. 2d., 15s. 2d., 14s. 11d. and 14s. 6d., or let them say an average of 15s. per head. As a contrast to these Unions he would instance Tallycarbet parish, Tyrone, where there were 1,974
people to the valuation of £4,600. That was at the rate of £2 5s. per head. Another parish in Tyrone—namely, Inish-keen—had a valuation of £2 6s. per head; and when the Committee considered the difference between £2 6s. and 15s., they had the full measure of the extent to which these Unions were below the standard of comfort. In Marri parish, County Down, however, the valuation rose to as high as £4 5.?. per head; and taking Ireland as a whole, the valuation was £2 12s. 6d. per head of the population. In the five Unions he had specified the people in olden days found it the greatest difficulty to keep body and soul together. They just tried to get along because they were contented with the lowest standard of comfort; but even in those days a partial failure of crops and loss of stock would plunge these districts into the greatest misery. In the last 10 years there had been a great change. There had been some tendency to aim at something like human comfort, and this had brought the people to live on credit—and once they began to live on credit they began to go down hill. Three bad seasons completely broke them down. The credit on which they lived was practically extinguished, and the population was in a state of destitution—he might say of despair—whether they looked at individuals or at the community. In Clifden Union alone there were 800 people at this moment actually homeless, actually without homes of any sort or kind. Some little time ago, when the harvest in Ireland promised to be better than it did now, though he earnestly hoped it could not yet be said to have failed, it was calculated by the officers of the Local Government Board that next winter the cost of maintaining the outside pauper population in Clifden would be £6,400, or at the rate of 12s. in the pound; and in the Belmullet Union the local Inspector reported that he expected to see the rates as high as 19s. in the pound. An hon. Gentleman said a few nights ago, and said it no unfriendly spirit, and still less in a way which implied a want of humanity, that there never was more money in the West of Ireland than now. People told him (Mr. Trevelyan) that it was quite certain there was never less money. The earnings of the people in the English harvests had been very low for some years past, and it had been a
very common thing for relatives to actually pawn the most necessary domestic articles in order to pay the return fares of the harvest men to Ireland. He thought the hon. Member of whom he spoke must have been listening to someone who distrusted the people, and who went about saying that poverty in Ireland was a got-up thing. It was quite true that women in Ireland might be seen drinking tea now who did not do so 10 years ago, and that there might be certain articles of finery now worn in the streets; but an observer, who had every possible means of judging of the condition of the people, and who had lived in the district, told him (Mr. Trevelyan) that many of these people—
Have already pawned everything of value they possess. I would he almost afraid to say how many beds I have seen in the Clifden pawnshops alone, belonging to these poor people, but I am sure there must be three or four hundred.
Now, the Government, during the past two years, had actually paid £20,000 in relief of distress, under the Relief of Distress Act, in these Unions, and it was much to be questioned whether the principle of making constant grants of aid in relief was not highly injurious—whether it did not engender distrust of the administration of the Poor Law, and cherish the hope that if they could only contribute to make the rates sufficiently high the Government would be bound to help them. He was not going to unnecessarily worry the Committee, at this time of night, but it was worth}' of remark what the maintenance per head in workhouses cost. In the five Unions he had spoken of the maintenance per head was £8 13s. 1d., £10 13s. 1d., £8 Is. 9d., £7 19s. 8d., and £8 16s. 8d—that was to say, whether to the ratepayers or Consolidated Fund, it would cost less to emigrate the person once for all than to maintain him for a year at the public expense at home. Under these circumstances, the Irish Government, knowing that the State must assist these people, preferred to do it by the aid of emigration. The Government honestly believed that the people preferred that course themselves. The official accounts confirmed and supplemented the testimony. Their Inspector said—
As to the feeling of the people in regard to emigration, it is greatly changed. Three years ago, when I first took charge of this district, the subject was one which had to be mooted and approached with great caution. It was 'exile'
'expatriation;' but now I have only to say that hardly a day passes that I do not get letters from people asking me if I know of any means by which they could get employment, gain a livelihood, or he emigrated; and each day I am obliged to make the same reply—namely, that I know of none.
Of the last passage, perhaps, he might read the concluding words. The Inspector said—
To sum up, I have to say that throughout Belmullet, Newport, Swineford, Clifden, and Oughterard, there is a general demand for emigration among the poorer classes; that the people arc prevented from emigrating by their not being in a position to obtain the necessary funds; that if steps arc not taken to meet this demand for emigration, the resources of the Poor Law will soon be inadequate to provide for the wants of the destitute people; and that the charge upon the occupiers will become so largo that persons in that position who are now solvent will be pauperized in consequence of their having to provide for the destitute.
Under those very exceptional circumstances, the Irish Government had come to the conclusion that if the money was not provided now it would have to be found by the public in the course of the ensuing winter, and if applied to the relief of the poor rates, it would only increase and perpetuate the evil which, if applied to emigration, it would do much to remedy. The way had been shown by the private exertions of a group of public-spirited men, including the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rath-bone). The Irish Government had come to the conclusion which had been embodied in the clause; the principal details had been sanctioned by Her Majesty's Government. The clause provided that the Boards of Guardians of any Unions might borrow money from the Board of Works for emigration purposes alone. The loan was to be for the term of not less than 15 years, nor more than 30 years, and was to be advanced at the rate of 3½ per cent where the loan was for a term not exceeding 20 years, and 8¾ per cent if the loan exceeded 20 years. They proposed to submit these loans to the provisions of the Treasury Minute of 1879, which, roughly speaking, governed all loans which were made now, and were made to individuals. This clause was, he thought, sufficiently guarded by provisions, which he need not enter into here, of the Poor Law Amendment Act—provisions which were then very effectual in limiting the amount of these loans. That part of the clause
which laid down the condition of loans was to extend to the whole of Ireland; but in certain Unions the Board of Works might make a free grant in aid of the loan. The sum to be granted should not exceed £100,000, and the sum to be granted to any one Union should not exceed £5 for each person for whoso emigration the Guardians were making provision. The grants could only be made on the recommendation of the Lord Lieutenant, stating that he was satisfied of the inability of the Guardians to make any adequate provision for emigration, having regard to the numbers anxious to go. Then power was given to the Lord Lieutenant to make rules for the guidance of Boards of Guardians in making arrangements for the shipping and transport of emigrants from their Unions. The Lord Lieutenant would have the power also to make arrangements for the reception of the emigrants abroad. This would enable the Lord Lieutenant, in cases where the Boards of Guardians had not the necessary experience or administrative power, to avail himself of the machinery that had been sot up and worked by the gentlemen who had hitherto conducted this beneficent undertaking, to such extent as he thought it to the interest of the public he should avail himself. [Mr. PAR-NELL: What gentlemen?] The association of gentlemen who had Mr. Tuke at their head. The Lord Lieutenant would be enabled to obtain assistance by their advice and their local knowledge, and he (Mr. Trevelyan) thought it would be a great waste if the energy and devotion which Mr, Tuke and those around him had shown were not utilized. The Lord Lieutenant would be enabled to take care that people should not leave their native shores in a state of destitution and discomfort, and he (Mr. Trevelyan) took it that the sums which the Government would give could, with those coming from other sources—from, for instance, the gentlemen who had hitherto conducted these operations—provide that emigrants could leave these shores perhaps with greater comfort even than they had hitherto enjoyed. It would be for the Lord Lieutenant to see that families should leave together; that whether they were on the ocean or in the now country they might still keep up the family life which they had enjoyed, and, he (Mr. Trevelyan) hoped, under happier cir-
cumstances; that when they reached America they should not find themselves turned adrift in the great cities on the coast; but, on the contrary, should be met by friendly hands and passed on by them until they found themselves in regions where congenial work could be obtained, and where a permanent and happy settlement could be effected—in fact, that all those conditions might be observed by which the great trial and the great misfortune of leaving a native country might be, as far as possible, mitigated and turned into a blessing. The scheduled Unions were those five Unions whose condition he had described; but the Local Government Board, with the approval of the Lord Lieutenant, they proposed, should be able to enlarge or contract that Schedule within the limits of the districts scheduled in the first instance by the Board of Works' Notice of November, 1879. That Schedule he imagined to be tolerably familiar to hon. Members who had followed the debates in this House since the time that the late Irish distress began to take a permanent form. This the Government believed to be sufficiently elastic as to meet the objects in favour of which they believed there was at this present moment an overwhelming feeling, and against which they could not help thinking there was a less rooted opposition than perhaps at any time in the recent history of Ireland. He begged to propose the new clause which stood in his name.
§ New Clause (Power of guardians to borrow for emigration,;—(Mr. Trevelyan,)—brought up, and read the first time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause be read a second time."
§ MR. RATHBONE
said, that after the speech they had just heard all must agree with him that so far from what happened yesterday being what a right hon. Gentleman had called a public calamity, it was a most fortunate occurrence, for it would have been impossible for any private Member to have spoken with the authority, or the knowledge, he might, perhaps, be almost permitted to say with the same ability, with which the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had just addressed the Committee. Of course, it was much more 1146 desirable that a measure like this should come from a Government who were to carry out the work, rather than from a private Member, and he felt that the Committee owed the right hon. Gentleman a debt for having so thoroughly mastered the subject. The right hon. Gentleman had, with great clearness and effect, described the necessity for facilities for emigration, and he (Mr. Rathbone) would only supplement what the right hon. Gentleman had said with one single fact, and that was that not only had these districts to deal with a state of things which had long existed, but, in addition to all the difficulties that the right hon. Gentleman had mentioned, they had to deal with the failure of those industries in consequence of which the people were only able to eke out a most miserable existence. The kelp industry had so greatly failed of late that the wretched existence which many so formerly lived was now no longer possible. In speaking of the question of the impoverished districts of Ireland—the Clifden Union—-the right hon. Gentleman had said there were 800 persons absolutely homeless; but, if emigration had not stepped in, the condition of things would have been very much worse. Mr. Tuke's organization had emigrated 1,300, and placed them in happiness and comfort on the other side of the Atlantic. One of the most valuable merits of the plan of the Government was its limitation. They often heard wild talk of emigrating 1,000,000 of people from Ireland; but it would be a very great curse if they attempted any such thing. In many parts of Ireland he believed emigration was going on as fast as it was desirable it should. It was proceeding rapidly by natural causes. He fancied they would all agree that no man wished one single individual, or one single family, to leave the country in which he could live decently and in comfort; and, what was more, they could not induce an Irishman, especially among the classes it was proposed to deal with, to leave his country against his wish. It was not, therefore, their object to induce a single person to emigrate; it was only to assist those who, by the necessities of the case, must emigrate or starve. The right hon. Gentleman had dealt so fully with the subject, that he (Mr. Rathbone) need only deal with it very briefly. The efforts of Mr. Tuke's association had established two facts— 1147 namely, the great demand from these districts for emigration, and the necessity to give some assistance to the districts for the purpose of emigration. He (Mr. Rathbone) had long been connected with Irish emigration schemes; but he had never taken any part in any scheme in which the greatest care Was not exercised that the people did not leave the country without decent clothing and provisions, and without steps being taken that they should be met on the other side of the water, and not thrown on the large cities on the seaboard where wages were high, but where, unfortunately, spirits were cheap. Within these rules he had never found any expenditure of money upon public objects which had returned such satisfactory results as the expenditure upon a careful and judicious system of emigration, and, as the right hon. Gentleman had just pointed out, the choice which lay before them was a simple one. They would have to emigrate these people; they could not possibly live on the small holdings which they possessed. With the consent of the Committee, he would read a very short extract from the report of two gentlemen, one a very well-known Catholic clergyman, and the other a Liverpool merchant, who were sent over to investigate the state of matters in the West of Ireland in January, 1880. After stating that the immediate cause of the distress had been a succession of bad harvests, combined with a great and unexpected fall in the prices of cattle, and all other products of the land, just at the time when the same causes prevented the agriculturists in this country employing the Irish labourers, the report went on to say—But behind that there exists a system so rotten that the recurrence of the existing distress is inevitable so long as that system lasts. The population in places is far too dense to he supported on the poor patches of boggy land, interspersed with rocks and stones. There are large districts where the average holdings are three to five acres of the poorest land imaginable, and as every cabin or such holding seems to swarm with children, it is below the mark to put the average number of mouths to be fed from the produce at six; and, in fact, they could not exist were it not for the money earned by the father and sons in this country and Scotland at harvest. Last year this source of income entirely failed them ….. but if the land were given to the people for nothing, they would be in a worse plight ere long, because a check on the sub-division of their holdings (which the landlords now exercise) would be 1148 withdrawn. In many of the poorer districts a man when asked how much land he holds says £2 10s. or £3 worth. How much farther from the brink of starvation would the abolition of that rent place him? The foundation of any improvement lies in emigration, which would benefit those who left the country and those who remained.Those were the words of an Irish Catholic clergyman; and he believed the same language was used by everybody connected with these extremely distressed districts of Ireland. The questions for the Committee to decide were these. Would they pass the people of these districts through a degrading process of pauperism, and reduce them to a state of demoralization which would insure them but a scant welcome in any country they might go to; or would they, before they became pauperized, take them from their miserable farms and place them in the position of honest labourers in America? The Government offered them the latter alternative, and, in the hope that it would be passed by the Committee, he should give the clause his hearty support.
§ MR. H. S. NORTHCOTE
said, he wished to bear testimony to the great and valuable services which had been rendered by Mr. Take. With reference to emigration from Ireland, he thought the reason why the plan of last year proved to be inoperative was because the money which the Government proposed to allow was so very moderate in amount, and because the scheme was so fenced about with stringent conditions that no company or parties of sufficient respectability thought it worth their while to take it up. Now, with reference to the present proposal of the Government, he begged to impress upon the Committee the fact that the present moment was particularly propitious for making the arrangements necessary to insure that the people who took advantage of the clause should be received on the other side of the Atlantic with decency and comfort, because it was too late this year for emigration to Canada or America. He trusted that this would be secured, and, moreover, that the Government would make arrangements with the Governments abroad that work should be found for the emigrants on arrival. He agreed with those who said that emigration from Ireland should be conducted on the principle of "family emigration;" and 1149 he did so not because he believed the elder members of Irish families would practically benefit the countries they went to—and he spoke with some knowledge of American and Canadian settlements—but because he wished to lessen the dissatisfaction and pain that would result from the members of families being separated. He had heard the Colony of Minnesota referred to by hon. Gentlemen as one in which the Irish people who went there had starved and perished miserably; and, in connection with that subject, he might mention that when he visited the Colony last autumn he found, on inquiry, that the matter stood in this way. The senior members of that community who went over there just before the commencement of the winter found that no work was to be obtained at that season. However, their fellow-countrymen who had already settled in the Colony, with Irish kindness and hospitality, maintained them through the winter; but, when the spring came, not being accustomed to hard work, they were unwilling to undertake the task of supporting themselves. But the younger members of the families were willing to do the work which offered, and were now doing well. He hoped Her Majesty's Government would not hesitate to avail themselves of the services of Mr. Tuke and the gentlemen who assisted him in his continued and laborious endeavours to ameliorate the condition of the people in the poorer districts of Ireland. He also urged on the consideration of the Government the great necessity that the Irish emigrants who went to America should be well cared for in point of clothing, and have, if possible, a trifle of money in their pockets on arrival; because there was no doubt that this question of Irish Emigration was regarded with great attention by the denizens of the Western States of North America, who, whilst they were willing to receive those who would work, naturally feared that the importation of a number of half-starved and ill-clad people who could not support themselves would not in the end be for the benefit of the country to which they were sent. Therefore, he trusted the Government would take care to insure that the emigrants should have at least two decent suits of clothes, some money in their pockets, and work on arrival in America.
said, he must congratulate the Government on their return to the simple and rational practice of placing the emigration arrangements proposed in the clause before the Committee in the hands of the Boards of Guardians. The Committee would be aware that under the Act of last year the Boards of Guardians were excluded, and the emigration was intrusted to public bodies who might be approved by the Land Commissioners. When the Emigration Clause in the Act of last year came before the Committee, his noble Friend the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) moved an Amendment, the object of which was to place the emigration about to take place in the hands of the Boards of Guardians; but his noble Friend upon that occasion was strongly opposed by the late Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant and the Prime Minister, who introduced convincing arguments to the Committee to prove that the Boards of Guardians were the very worst bodies to whom the emigration could be intrusted. Those arguments would be interesting to the Committee on the present occasion—hon. Members need not be alarmed, he was not going to read them—but he would simply observe that experience had changed the opinion of the Prime Minister and the late Chief Secretary for Ireland, who now recommended the employment of the very bodies whom last year they denounced. He thought it was only just to his noble Friend to point out that, although the arguments he used last year did not convince the Government, their force was now acknowledged, the proposed emigration being now in the hands of the most proper persons to deal with it—namely, the Boards of Guardians.
§ MR. MOORE
said, he did not know what the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) meant by placing emigration in the hands of the Boards of Guardians. If he meant that some power of selection was left to these bodies, he had no objection to that arrangement; but, as he read the clause, it was the Lord Lieutenant who might from time to time make provisions that arrangements should be made for securing the satisfactory emigration of persons for whom means of emigration was provided under this Act by prescribing rules for the guidance of the Guardians. 1151 Now, in relation to such matters, he believed the Boards of Guardians were wholly ignorant; and, moreover, he feared they would not be sufficiently liberal in their views or anxious in then-endeavours to have the emigration scheme satisfactorily carried out. On these grounds he strongly objected to their having anything to do with it, except, perhaps, by way of exercising the power of selection already alluded to.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he was sure the Committee would agree with him when he said they had now approached one of the most difficult branches of the Irish Question. In the first place, he wished to say that, considering the magnitude of the evil with which it was intended to deal, he regarded the proposals of the Government as very inadequate in their scope; and, further, that he looked upon the sum of money which they proposed to set aside in aid of emigration as entirely insufficient. He had ventured to state, when the Land Law (Ireland) Bill was under consideration in that House, upon the clause having reference to emigration, that, from its restricted character, it was foredoomed to absolute and utter failure. That prediction having been fulfilled, he was anxious that if the matter of emigration were touched at all, it should be touched effectively—that whatever steps were taken should be of a kind which not merely excited some curiosity and pointless conversation on the subject, but which wont to the root of the difficulty once for all. He need not trouble the Committee by stating the unfavourable views which had from time to time been taken by Irish Members on the question of emigration generally; but he might be pardoned for saying that he belonged to the number of persons who knew something of the condition and resources of Ireland, and who still adhered to the opinion that, taking any large county of Ireland as a whole, there was no such thing as over-population there. He was, on the other hand, ready to admit that there were overcrowded districts in various counties, and the county which he represented was one which suffered in that respect to a certain degree, but was not, on the whole, over-populated. They had always advocated a scheme of migration as opposed to a scheme of emigration; but, so far, they had not succeeded in con- 1152 vincing the House that this was the proper remedy for the existing evil. They were now face to face with that evil; and he asked whether the Government were going to deal with this question effectually, and once for all? If so, then they would have to go very much further than they seemed to intend, because if they succeeded, by the offer of £5 a-head, in inducing a number of destitute persons to leave Ireland, and settle on the other side of the Atlantic, what was to become of the persons who would be left behind, and who would be ready to take the place of the first batch of those who were sent out? How were the Government going to prevent the subsequent occupation of the districts by other families just as destitute and miserable as those who went away? They had had the advantage of seeing the different views taken of this proposal by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant on the one hand, and the hon. Gentleman who had just addressed the Committee (Mr. Northcote) from those Benches above the Gangway on the other. The Chief Secretary for Ireland stated that it would be very demoralizing to the Guardians, and to all who were connected with the administration of the Poor Law, if they were allowed to entertain the idea that Parliament would come forward from time to time with what the right hon. Gentleman called "Constant aids to the relief of the poor." But he did not see how the Guardians could fail to entertain that idea, from the very nature of this proposal, which, he said, was of a very halting character, and only nibbled with the question they wished to settle. Reference had been made to the exertions of Mr. Tuke; but if hon. Members had studied the figures given by that gentleman, they would see that the Government ought to be prepared to advance a much larger sum of money than that named if they wished to deal with this question effectively. He noticed also, that while there was a general agreement as to the advisability of emigrating families rather than single individuals, there was also a general agreement that the people on the other side of the Atlantic might possibly not be so ready to receive these families. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Rath-bone) stated that the Colonizers in Canada and the United States were 1153 anxious to get strong men and strong women; but that they were not anxious to get old men and helpless children. If that were so, how were the Government going to make the necessary arrangements? He was sure the Committee would not think he was anxious to obscure the issue before them; but these were practical difficulties in the way of the Government proposal to relieve the congested districts of Ireland, and he was desirous of knowing how the Government intended to grapple with them before he joined in the congratulations which had been offered to them on the strength of their proposal. Emigration by families was not made compulsory by the clause, and if families were to be emigrated rather than single persons, the carrying out of that plan would depend on the efficiency of the rules framed by the Lord Lieutenant. Now, he would much prefer to see the clause so worded as to indicate that it was the desire and intention of Parliament that by some means or other families should be emigrated. Again, he desired to see some direction given in the clause which would enable those interested in the work to go right to those districts which were overcrowded. They knew that Boards of Guardians were partially representative bodies, or, at any rate, whether they were representative or not, they were susceptible of certain influences that might be brought to bear upon them; and he was afraid, unless the scheme of emigration were carefully devised in the manner indicated, that the Guardians would be found offering money to persons who had their passage tickets already in their pockets, or who had received from their friends in America or Canada the means of emigrating. Therefore, he said, if stringent rules were not framed, they would be simply adding their little contribution to the large amount of emigration funds which accumulated in Ireland. Every farthing might be spent, and it might then be found that the money had got into the pockets of persons who did not care whether the people emigrated or not. Under such circumstances, at the end of the year the congested districts would be as badly off as at present. In Ireland, with the decrease of population, there was an absolute increase in the area of uncultivated and waste lands. Now, he said, there must be something 1154 wrong when that description could be given of the condition of Ireland. He only wished it were possible to induce that House to enter upon a large scheme for the development of the resources of the country, which would place the unoccupied land in Ireland at the disposal of peasant proprietors brought from the crowded districts. If such a scheme could be carried, he should certainly be willing to receive, as a great favour, a proposal of this kind if it went to the root of the matter. While he appreciated the intention of the Government in bringing in the clause, he was bound to say that unless its scope were enlarged, and unless the sum of money proposed to be given were multiplied by five, the scheme was doomed to failure.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, the Committee would hardly expect him to repeat, at that distance of time, the arguments which were used last year on the subject of the employment of the Boards of Guardians in this matter; but he believed the understanding was that the Board of Guardians would be a proper public body to act if they were willing to fulfil the conditions imposed by the clause of last year. Now, it had been discovered that they could not fulfil those conditions, because, by the Poor Law, they were only able to borrow money which was to be repaid in seven years. That was a matter, then, which plainly had to be rectified by another Act. The experience gained by him since last year had confirmed the opinion he then expressed, that in some of the districts the only practical remedy for the distress existing there was emigration; but, at the same time, they were now in a different position to what they were last year, and he admitted that to act through the Boards of Guardians was much more feasible now than it was then. The people themselves were more anxious to emigrate, and he believed the ratepayers had found that it would be to their advantage to assist them to do so, to prevent the heavy taxation that would otherwise come upon them in future, owing to the increased demands upon the workhouses. The hon. Member who had just sat down had made an objection to this proposal, on, as he said, the ground of its insufficiency. Well, he did not himself pretend to believe that the measure proposed would entirely meet the case; but 1155 he thought it would do so to a greater extent than the hon. Member supposed. In the first place, although the distress was very great in some districts, and although it was very clear that in those districts nothing practical could he done for the people to lessen their distress, except by assisting them to emigrate, the people there were, after all, hut a small part of the population. He entirely agreed with the hon. Member in saying that Ireland, as a whole, was not over-populated. It might be said that no province of Ireland was over-peopled. There was, in certain districts, undoubtedly, a great portion of the population without the means of subsistence. If you could migrate these people, it would, no doubt, be for their advantage; but he would point out that there was no land ready for them to take, and therefore, unquestionably, they would have a better chance in Canada or the United States of America. The hon. Member said, if they were emigrated, their place would be immediately filled by others as destitute. But he did not think that would be the case. They hoped that they would be able to place the Irish peasant in a bettor position than he had been in before, and, if their hopes were realized, he would not be likely to leave his district whore the standard of living had been raised. The object was to assist a certain number of people to emigrate, so as to put those left behind in a better position, and raise the whole standard of life in the various districts. Some time ago the hon. Member for Tipperary (Mr. Dillon) made a speech which had a very great effect. He spoke not only of the love of country held by many small tenants, but of their willingness to work hard, and said that was proved by their going-year after year to England and saving the money they there earned, adding that many of them would make a most creditable and hard-working population, of which the country should he proud. He quite agreed with the hon. Member in that; but he thought there were too many of these people, and if some of them were taken away the rest would be able to thrive. The point was, whether what the Government now proposed would be sufficient for that purpose. He rather doubted it; but he was inclined to think it was almost as much as the Government could be expected to do at 1156 this immediate time, because they had not only those on this side of the Atlantic to think about, hut they must take care they did not glut the market in the United States and Canada. If they sent more out than could be taken, they might give a had character to emigration and spoil it altogether. He looked at this plan in this way. Under careful superintendence it would be a success; and what more was necessary to be done, or could he done? He agreed with the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Moore) with regard to Boards of Guardians; but he did not think those Boards would he fit to undertake the arrangements for the reception of emigrants in America, and he did not think they would attempt to do it. But he thought the Government would obtain the assistance of private individuals in the matter, and it might fairly he loft to the Lord Lieutenant to recommend such rules as seemed best calculated to carry out this work. He had known Mr. Tuke over since he was a hon. That gentleman's benevolent action in Irish matters was well known, and he was most anxious to put his services at the disposal of the Government. But, of course, the responsibility must rest with the Government; and no Lord Lieutenant would think of referring to any private individual, however benevolent, or able, the real responsibility of taking care that the emigrants were well looked after on the passage. He could only most heartily thank the Government for taking this matter up, and express his belief that this scheme would be one way by which great good would be done to Ireland.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he thought he had come reason to complain that this very important matter should be left to the very last moment, and that the Committee should only have received notice this morning of the clause by which the Government proposed to carry out their new scheme of emigration. He could not think the Chief Secretary had justified the course he wished the Committee to take, either by the urgency which he said surrounded the question, or by the nature of the proposals themselves. He could not see, if there was to be any large distress in the districts in the West of Ireland this winter, how a few thousand pounds which would emigrate 20,000 people, or 4,000 families, would 1157 have any but a partial effect in alleviating that distress. He thought it would have been better for the Government this winter to have relied on the Arrears Bill and the machinery of the Poor Law, devoting the interval to considering this question and bringing forward a well-digested scheme, instead of the present crude and, as he feared, unworkable scheme. As the Government had invited the Committee to consider these proposals, he supposed they would now move to report Progress, in order that the Irish Members might lay their views before the Committee to-morrow with regard to the scheme.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Parnell.)
said, he thought the appeal of the hon. Member could hardly be acceded to, for this Bill, to be of any value, must be used at once. Although he had not been connected with the institution which Mr. Tuke so well represented, he had taken great interest in the emigration movement; and he found in Mr. Tuke's estimate that in some districts the whole population might be induced to emigrate, and he was sure that other districts were in an almost equally bad state, he hoped the Government might be able to enlarge the sum they had, named, because £100,000 seemed very small, although Mr. Tuke himself was very well satisfied with the proposal. He believed Mr. Tuke had carefully considered the proposal, and was thoroughly satisfied that it was the best that could be adopted at present. He believed that if the Government pursued their course thoroughly it would meet with every success.
§ MR. THOROLD ROGERS
said, he very much agreed with the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell); but, at the same time, he thought this experiment was well worth trying. What was required to be done in emigration was to relieve the population of adult persons and children. His experience as a Poor Law Guardian was that in the case of excess of population, one of the greatest difficulties was to deal with children. He thought that with regard to the Irish population it was desirable to try this experiment, and when it had been tried to see whe- 1158 ther what had been done in the first instance was likely to be successful in the future. The wisest plan was to begin a matter of this kind on a small scale. The Poor Law Guardians in Ireland were so thoroughly alive to the difficulties from which their country suffered that they might be trusted with the small discretion the Government proposed.
§ MR. BLAKE
wished the Chief Secretary for Ireland to give him some information on certain important points. He had himself strongly advocated emigration last year, and did now in certain cases; but the plan of the Government was one of the most undefined and crude schemes he had ever heard of. According to the proposal of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, it was intended that the whole expenditure for the people should be £5 per head. The people were to be sent to America and would have little money in their pockets on their arrival. He did not see how the scheme was to be carried out for £5 a-head, for that would only land the people on the shores of America, and do nothing else for them. A well-defined proposal had been addressed to the Home Government by the Governor General of Canada; and if the Chief Secretary for Ireland could give some assurance that something of that kind was contemplated he should not oppose the present scheme; otherwise he must. The Canadian Government, in their scheme, sympathized, they said, with the Irish people, who were in distressed circumstances, and would joyfully cooperate in a systematic emigration from Ireland. They proposed that means of maintaining emigrants until an homestead had been built for them and the land had been sown should be provided, and undertook to give each emigrant 160 acres of land and the right to 160 more at the current price of the day. He wished to know from the Chief Secretary for Ireland what he was going to do with the emigrants when he got them on the other side of the Atlantic at this rate of £5 per head? Where was the money to come from to make provision for them? Would they be sent to the United States or to Canada? He should like also to know what had become of this excellent proposal of the Government of Canada, and whether it was intended to adopt it in any shape?
§ MR. RAMSAY
said, the Government had now proposed a plan which would aid in removing the radical cause of discontent in Ireland—-namely, the distress suffered by a numerous class of the people. There wore masses of occupiers of land living in a state of chronic starvation, and he could not see how it was possible for anyone acquainted with rural populations to fail to see that the transformation of their condition was essential for their peace and prosperity. Disaffection was the only result of such distress; and he was not surprised that Radical Members below the Gangway, considering the numbers requiring aid, complained of the inadequacy of the sum proposed—namely, £100,000. He thought millions, instead of hundreds of thousands, would be required to deal with the people he had referred to, and he thought such occupiers should only be moved in families. He believed the taxpayers would willingly bear this expense if they could see the people freed from the cause of disaffection. He expressed his satisfaction at finding the Government had at last begun to consider the real cause of discontent in Ireland, and he hoped that a more extensive and expansive scheme would be proposed. The Land Act of last year and the Arrears Bill would be fruitless to produce peace and contentment in Ireland; and it had been little better than a waste of time to raise those questions, when no attempt was made otherwise to relieve the distress of the people.
§ SIR WALTER B. BARTTELOT
said, he would appeal to the Government to allow Progress to be reported, as it was impossible at this hour to take a full discussion on the question. This was the most important question with regard to the welfare of Ireland that could possibly be raised.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I had hoped that the Committee would agree to dispose of this clause this evening, and I have an opinion that the Committee is practically unanimous on the subject. Although the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Blake) says this proposal is not satisfactory, I do not understand either from him or from the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) that they intend to offer any opposition to the clause, nor do I gather that they have any intention of pro- 1160 posing Amendments to the clause. The only complaint I have been able to gather in respect to this proposal is that it is inadequate. The hon. Member for the City of Cork says it is inadequate; but this proposal will not in the least degree interfere with the operation of the Arrears Bill, which will operate at the same time, and from the description given of the distressed districts I think it is quite evident that no Arrears Act could deal with the state of things so described. Then, with regard to the Poor Law Guardians, this will only be an additional means by which we hope to relieve destitution. Then the hon. Member for Waterford says the amount per head is inadequate. I must point out that the total sum is £5 as the limit to the Government grant. That is supplemented either by Poor Law Unions or by private persons. Therefore, it does not follow that £5, which I admit by itself would be inadequate, will not be a satisfactory sum. I do not propose to go into this question, and I will only say that I think it is to be regretted that, when the Committee is practically unanimous on the subject as far as I gather, we should not be allowed to dispose of the clause to-night. Of course, this is a matter entirely for the discretion of the Committee; but I think there is a unanimous agreement that this Bill ought to leave the House to-morrow. Whether the discussion is to be concluded to-morrow morning or carried on to the Evening Sitting is a matter, so far as the Government are concerned, of indifference; but I think that the House, having had to absorb so much of the time of private Members during the present Session, would be disposed, if possible, to allow private Members to have to-morrow evening. This is a matter entirely for the House to decide; I can hardly venture to give any opinion on it.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee to sit again To-morrow, at Two of the clock.